Irene Radford,
Merlin's Descendants #3:
Guardian of the Vision

(DAW, 2002)

To the mundane world, the Kirkwood family is known as the hereditary Barons of Kirkenwood, from whence they take their name. But they have another, greater heritage which they reveal only to the ruling monarch of England. Their family is descended from both the Merlin of legend and King Arthur himself by Merlin's daughter Arylwren, the first of their family to reside at Kirkenwood. They are the family of the Pendragon, who is chosen from each generation by the preceding Pendragon's familiar, a female wolfhound always called Newynog in honor of Arylwren's familiar. The wolfhound's line is as ancient and unbroken as the Pendragon's own.

Griffin Kirkwood has known all his life -- from the moment that the current Newynog deposited a wolfhound puppy in his lap -- that he is destined to be the next Baron of Kirkenwood as well as the next Pendragon when his formidable grandmother Raven dies. Trained in magic from an early age, he believes himself ready for the challenge -- until a vision during a battle causes him to forsake everything he has been training for and enter the Catholic priesthood.

Donovan Kirkwood, Griffin's younger twin brother, has never shown any of the magic that is his family's heritage, though he is positive that he possesses it and is desperate to unlock its secret. When Griffin deserts the family for the Church, it is Donovan, ready or not, who must become both Baron of Kirkenwood and the Pendragon. A staunch Protestant -- more out of spite than true belief -- Donovan disowns his brother and refuses to have anything more to do with him, even though Griffin returns to assume the Staff and Ring of the Pendragon at Raven's death.

And unknown to both brothers, the Demon of Chaos banished by their ancestor Resmiranda Griffin has been summoned once more into the world by a descendant of Nimue. Using Roanna as a tool, the demon stokes the fires of war and chaos, setting brother against brother, country against country, queen against people. It will take both brothers to banish him -- if they can ever speak a civil word to one another.

Guardian of the Vision is the third installment in Irene Radford's Merlin's Descendant's series. Set during the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I, it chronicles the years between 1553 and 1563.

Radford has crafted a complex story, seamlessly mixing her own characters with historical personnages. But rather than being about the history, the story really concerns Griffin and Donovan's respective journeys, how each man finds the answers to his own life's questions and ultimately accepts the destiny laid on him by family and country.

Guardian of the Vision takes place some 300 years after the events of the preceding novel, Guardian of the Trust, which itself takes place several centuries after Guardian of the Balance. No knowledge of the other books in the series is necessary to completely enjoy the current novel.

- Rambles
written by Laurie Thayer
published 7 December 2002

Buy it from